Super Best Audio Friends

The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists

Since the RS1e (reviewed here), Grado has gone to a larger 50mm driver, which is different than the 44mm drivers on the RS2X and down. There once was a time when all Grados including the RS1* were 44mm drivers. Grado now differentiates their TOTL RS1 series with the larger driver. The X model here is a reformulation of the 50mm driver on the RS1e. From what I'm hearing, this could be their most resolving driver yet. The difference was quite discernable going from an SR325X to the RS1X.

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With the X, Grado has further differentiated the RS1 with sexier wood cups. I don't know how they pulled this off, but Grado managed to sandwich maple, hemp, and cocobolo in the wood cups. The wood cups on the RS1X are deeper than the cups on the rest of the lineup. The idea I presume is to maximize the coloration of these woods, which IMO is their best and most interesting yet. Make no mistake, the RS1X is a full-blown Grado interpretative experience. Long time Grado fans will love this. Audiophile wanting something a different may love this. For those who want something that plays stuff back more straight up, there are the SR225X and SR325X. Unlike the SR225X and 325X, the RS1X goes for the classic Grado tonal response on yesteryear, that is lean and punchy with upper mid crunch, but dial it back a bit in the mid-treble so it's no so bright.
The 7hz Timeles iem is, like I said, the most natural, normal sounding iem I’ve ever heard. It’s got a beautiful, rich, airy, upfront, natural and neutral sounding midrange. It has punchy, solid, dynamic bass that is completely neutral (out of the Liquid Gold X) and has pretty good texture and detail and layering but not up to full size ortho levels, it’s a bit softer and less defined and controlled than my Audeze headphones. It has absolutely no peaks anywhere in the upper mids-treble, which is dead flat (though there could be a small recession in the upper mids and I might not notice it, this is very hard to hear despite what everyone thinks). Treble is dead neutral, with great tone. Cymbals sound metallic. They have perfect tone and timbre throughout the spectrum, rendering instruments with a very lifelike sound. Brass sounds brassy, violins sound woody. They have pretty good soundstage, but not the best in the iem market, but it’s still quite good, and immersive. They are very resolving but they don’t shove it in your face like the Zen Pro, they have much softer attacks, so they don’t scream resolution at you, but it’s there, I believe equal to the Zen Pro or just slightly behid. They have very natural sounding attacks and leading edges of notes that are possibly a bit soft if anything. They fit well despite the odd shape.

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Did I mention they are $200?
SBAF thread for listening impressions and audio wisdom of two well regarded products by

https://ferrum.audio

The Oor amp: https://ferrum.audio/oor/
The Hypsos power supply: https://ferrum.audio/hypsos/

perhaps a new glorious trinity
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Will do this stream of consciousness style. Given the all this talk of RS1x and RS2X (I do have RS1x incoming), I figured it would be nice to do a review of the SR225x. The SR225x is a nice complement to the metal cup SR325x.

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The SR225 in the Grado lineup has always be thought to be the high-value model. That is the price point knee where very good performance is obtained before serious things start to get very expensive. The SR225X is no different, although the SR325X is very compelling as well for not that much more. I think it's best that I cover the differences.
The Zen Pro is extremely neutral from bass to treble, with a beautiful upfront midrange with excellent tonality that’s not recessed at all while at the same time not having any bumps or peaks in the upper mids. They have no peaks anywhere in the spectrum from the upper mids to treble. The lower midrange is flat too, they don’t sound thin at all, very natural. Very flat. They remind me of the Gaudio Nar in their FR. They also have no resonance that I can hear anywhere in the spectrum.

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This is a feat in itself especially for an electromagnetic driver iem, but at the same time, they have excellent technicalities. They’re fast, very resolving, dynamic and have a huge soundstage. Not quite as expansive as the CA Solaris but very close.
This thread is being created for the upcoming Walnut loaner tour so that participants will have a space to leave impressions, and hopefully to get a conversation going about this DAC I quite like, but that hardly anyone has heard.

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I purchased a Walnut X.1 and liked it enough that I asked Tom (at Beezar, he builds these) to make me another one for another system. He mentioned he could put together one with amorphous transformers called X.3, and I happily paid him a deposit.

Before Walnut I had never heard something I have come to call the Schiit Smear. I had a Gungnir Multibit A1 and a Bifrost 2 in house when Walnut X.1 arrived, and for the first time they both had a sort of smear to them. Once I'd heard it, I didn't like it. Unfortunately for me, this is the kind of thing I can't un-hear. The clarity Walnut offers is something I very much enjoy.
It's been some time since I've sat down to review anything. That was until last week when my friend Hugo from indiehifi called me to tell me he is bringing me Holo May kte3, Raal sr1a, requisite, the meze elite and some streamers for me to listen too. Hugo is cool and just wants to know my thoughts with no pressure to buy.

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May was tested mostly using NOS with HQ player via usb using golden ones recommended settings which push 44.1khz to 1.411mhz and 48khz to 1.5mhz doing the OS upstream of the DAC.

I tried May for a few days without the HQ settings and it lacked top end air, it was a tad harsh in the upper octaves and becomes fatiguing (with headphones/XLR*), bass is also a bit looser, everything is just not as polished as the HQplayer version which is just a much more pleasant and technically impressive experience.
I was surprised to see quite a bit of interest in this amp so I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts and experiences on the build, as well as sound impressions. A review is also in the works but I think it’s best to give things some more settling time while also allowing the “new toy syndrome” to wear off.

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The TU-8900 is Elekit’s latest model and uses directly heated triodes (DHTs) instead of pentodes like its predecessor. While most amps of this design tend to be built around one type of DHT, the 8900 has a unique auto detect circuitry that can recognize either 2A3 or 300B tubes. These power tubes are driven by either two 12AU7 or 12BH7 (my preference) and doesn’t require any tubes for rectification as this is accomplished via diodes.

My first Elekit build was the TU-8800 over a year back. Before this, I hadn’t been much of a DIY guy and always hated soldering back in engineering school. However, cabin fever has a way of making you reconsider options and I soon found myself staring at a kit with a soldering iron in hand.
A fellow poster on Head-Fi pointed out that I hadn’t posted a review of my Abyss Headphones AB1266 Phi TC. I hadn’t realized, as I have written reviews of the original 1266, and the Phi version. However, both those reviews were written before starting this blog, so I thought why not do a review of my current pair, the TC’s.

There are 4 official versions of the AB1266. The AB1266, the AB1266 Phi, The AB1266 Phi CC, and finally, the AB1266 Phi TC. The 1266 Phi was a driver upgrade over the originals. The Phi CC was a upgrade of the finish to a ceramic coating, and new ear pads (not a driver change,) and the Phi TC is another fully new driver. I have personally owned the original AB1266, the AB1266 Phi, and the AB1266 Phi TC. I also owned the Diana Phi for a long period for good measure also. For the rest of this review, I’ll just refer to the Phi TC, as the TC’s, as the name is a bit long.

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Abyss Headphones are made entirely in the USA, and are the best built headphones I have personally come across, perhaps tied with the Meze Empyrean in terms of build quality. The design of the AB1266 models is a bit polarizing, with some loving, and some hating it. Abyss has refined the design over the years it has been available, but it is largely the same as it was when it was originally released.
Before I say more, I should mention that the iFi GO blu sounds fricking great as long as we are using efficient IEMs and headphones. I tried a Sennheiser HD600 via the balanced out but presentation was one the soft side. However, I would expect the HD660S, HD560S, HD558 do do well. Personally, I been using Grados with the F pads and the Oriolus Isabellae IEMs for the past few days, obtaining excellent results.

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Yes, the iFi Go blu is tiny.

The sound of the iFi GO reminds me of the first A&K players which used the Wolfson DA chips. This was before A&K went to Cirrus which IMO were more boring sounding in units at x4-10 the price. Despite Wolfson based DACs having the most varied sound signature compared to DAC using other chips, I've always liked the Wolfson. I've owned the AMB Gamma 2 and PS Audio Perfectwave 1 and 2. Except here's the problem: the Go blu uses a Cirrus logic. This left me puzzled, until I realized that Cirrus had purchased Wolfson many years ago. I'm betting the Cirrus chip used in this thing is based on a older Wolfson design if not recycled outright. I'll leave the rest of you to do the investigation. I have no idea what part is used in the GO blu.
Audeze made a ribbon. Oh my, the clouds in sky parted. God reached down his hand. I was touched by the hand of God! Nope. However, the LCD-R more than holds its own. It's solid offering which is a bit of break from their standard lineup. And dare I say it: it's also quite a steal. How could $2500 be a steal you may wonder. Well, the package comes with the Jotunheim A, an amplifier which was specifically made for the super low impedance load of the LCD-R which is around 2.35-ohms. I mean all of you guys in the market for this kind of product would already cough up $1k minimum for an amp right? And we're talking about a special amp too.

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I have a big head. Note maximum extension. I do like to wear the LCD-R low and forward.

While the LCD-R is super sensitive to voltage, requiring barely any potential to move that ribbon, the LCD-R loves that massive firehouse sized stream of electrons. Unfortunately your amp is more than likely a garden hose. At best we'll get increased distortion. At worst, the output devices will catch on fire. Word of warning: if you want to try it on your regular heads amps, monitor temperatures with with a FLIR. You will also need to re-terminate because the LCD-R uses the SR1A's style of termination (female 4-pin XLR). Another option I think could work would be to add a resistor in series because of the LCD-R's sensitivity. That would result in effectively higher output impedance and also throw most of the power from the amp away into heat.
This is a low-end BA driver IEM, but these distortion characteristics carry throughout all BA type drivers. Higher end BA drivers or perhaps better implementations will have lower distortion, but the kind of distortion, the harmonic pattern, stays the same. What I've been below is provide a 1kHz signal at four different levels in increments of 10db
  1. Pervasive high 3rd order distortion, regardless of sound level. It sticks our like a sort thumb and never goes away, even at the softest levels. The BA sound is likely killing you softly with this song.
  2. At moderate higher levels, we see an increase in all harmonics which is typical, but it's the odd order harmonics that really rise. That's the 3rd and the 5th.
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